Canada’s National Ribbon Skirt Day, to be held annually on January 4, pays tribute to a young Indigenous girl who was shamed for wearing her traditional skirt to a formal wear day at her elementary school. The commemoration celebrates all Indigenous women, while offering a opportunity to learn about their heritage and culture.
“Today, I join all those across Canada who are marking the first National Ribbon Skirt Day, whether that be through celebration, ceremony, or with community. Every year from now on, January 4 will be an opportunity for us all to learn more about and to celebrate Indigenous cultures, traditions, histories, and contributions to this diverse country,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.
Passed unanimously into law by Parliament last month, National Ribbon Skirt Day originates with the story of Isabella Kulak. A member of Cote First Nation, Saskatchewan, Isabella was shamed for wearing her handmade ribbon skirt to a formal wear day at her elementary school. Traditionally worn by First Nations and Métis peoples, ribbon skirts are a centuries-old symbol of identity, adaptation, and survival for Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people, and represents a direct connection to Mother Earth.
“Isabella’s story shone a light on the enduring injustices, racism, and discrimination faced by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in Canada every day, and on the importance of the role we all have to play in making sure that what happened never happens again to anyone in Canada,” the statement read. “Raising awareness of and protecting the unique and deeply personal traditions of Indigenous communities is essential to advancing reconciliation as a society, as well as building relationships and connections based on mutual respect and understanding.”
“This National Ribbon Skirt Day, I invite everyone to learn from Indigenous Peoples about their cultures and histories – from languages to traditional ceremonies and regalia to ancestral ties to the land.” Trudeau stated. “Together, let us amplify Indigenous voices and stand up against racism and discrimination to build a better society for everyone.”